We are often asked about the process for adopting a child from China. Typically, families wanting children with no known special needs wait several years for a referral, while families open to special needs can complete the process in about a year.
There are two ways to do a special needs adoption in China. If you are interested in a very young child with a very minor need, then in most cases you'll complete your homestudy, compile your dossier, and send it to China (aka DTC) to be logged in (aka LID) to the system. After you are logged in, your agency will put you on the waiting list for the special needs that you are willing to accept. If you are open to a wide range of needs, then you will probably obtain your referral quickly. If you have a narrow list of needs you will accept, then it may be a few months. It really all depends on what needs you are comfortable accepting. This process can take as little as 12 months but sometimes takes longer.
The other way to do it is to adopt a "Special Focus" child. You can be matched with a child on the special focus list at any time, even before your homestudy is complete, provided you are willing to share some basic family information with China and submit a letter of intent (LOI) In response to your letter of intent the authorities in China will grant you pending approval (aka PA) with a deadline to have your dossier in China in six months. This process usually takes about 12 months but in some cases when a child is in need of medical assistance, an agency may be able to expedite the process.
Please take a few minutes to watch this video about special needs adoption.